GUYS AND DOLLS
Through April 1
Lamb’s Players Theatre
1142 Orange Ave., Coronado
- Tues, Wed & Thurs 7:30 p.m.
- Fri 8 p.m.
- Sat 4 & 8 p.m.
- Sun 2 p.m.
Info: (619) 437-6000
Coronado theater company’s latest extends run through end of March
By Charlene Baldridge | Downtown News
The newly opened “Guys and Dolls” is a splendid example of the Lamb’s Players Theater doing what it does best. All the elements in this classic, large cast musical, from leads to costumes to choreography and live orchestra, are assured, sparkling with ease and enthusiasm. This review is based on the opening night performance of February 11, and the musical plays through April 1.
The 1950 Broadway musical is based on short stories and characters by Damon Runyon with book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Frank Loesser’s music and lyrics sparkle, offering listeners who may have forgotten, or never knew, a prime bouquet of songs that issue from the characters and advance the plot.
An entertainer at the Hot Box nightclub, Miss Adelaide (by hilarious and spunky Eileen Bowman) has been engaged for 14 years to a gambler named Nathan Detroit (Spencer Rowe). Nathan has serious commitment issues and runs “The Oldest Established” floating crap game in town. Harry the Horse (Andy Collins) is putting on the pressure because Big Julie (John Rosen) is in town from Chicago looking for some action and Nathan hasn’t yet found a venue for it.
Nathan finds a place but needs a $1,000 guarantee, which he doesn’t have. He bets high-roller Sky Masterson (Brent Schindele) that Sky can’t persuade Salvation Army doll Sarah Brown (Kelsey Venter) to go to Havana with him. Sky, who is very persuasive, wins the bet and falls in love for the first time—“I’ve Never Been in Love Before”—and despite her better judgment, so does Sarah in “If I Were a Bell.”
Nathan’s main Guys are well played by Jesse Abeel as Liver Lips Louie, Danny Boman as Benny Southstreet, and Tim Roberts as Nicely Nicely, with fine turns by Rhona Gold as Salvation Army General Cartwright, Ralph Johnson as Sarah’s grandfather—touching in his song “More I Cannot Wish You”—and Jim Chovick as Lt. Brannigan.
Knockout musical numbers include Adelaide’s “Take Back Your Mink,” Sky’s “Luck Be a Lady” and the ensemble piece, “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
Schindele and Venter are musically fine as Sky and Sarah. Although it’s not the ideal rolling and rich baritone, Schindele’s voice is well suited for the venue and he is handsome. Venter possesses a sweet soprano and gratifying musicality. What I would wish her is a better wig. As for Bowman’s Adelaide, she is precious, extremely musical and a screamingly funny comic. Rowe is extremely appealing as Nathan.
Costume designer Jeanne Reith dresses all the guys and dolls brightly, and that’s no small feat. The company numbers 23. I particularly adored Benny’s green suit and the colorful shirts worn by the male dancers, who were fabulously kinetic crapshooters as choreographed by Coleen Kollar Smith.
Kerry Meads upholds her reputation as one of the city’s finest musical comedy directors. The pacing never flags and the evening flashes by in just two-and-a-half hours, due in part to Mike Buckley’s fluid scenic design. Patrick Duffy’s sound design supports the artists as well as Jon Lorenz’s musical direction, the fine five-piece band, which plays Taylor Peckham’s venue appropriate orchestrations.